H.N. Cheng

High Efficiency Solar Energy Conversion

Blog Post created by H.N. Cheng on May 3, 2019

On Tuesday, April 30, ACS Louisiana Section held on Chemistry-on-Tap event with Professor Matthew Escarra (Tulane Univ.) talking about solar energy. He reviewed the earlier work done on solar cells and indicated that the best photovoltaic cells can only convert 21% of sunlight to electrical energy. With multi-junction cells that can capture energy at different wavelengths, the conversion can be increased possibly to 40%. Prof. Escarra’s recognizes that part of the sunlight is wasted in the form of thermal energy. Through systematic improvements in cell design, he has been able to utilize both the electrical and thermal energy to achieve ultrahigh efficiency solar energy conversion, up to 80% overall efficiency. This sounds very encouraging. Hopefully we can see the benefit of his findings in the future.